Thursday, 07 January 2010 07:02

Netgear claims 20% boost in HomePlug AV performance

The growth in Ethernet-connected home entertainment devices is bringing renewed attention to HomePlug AV, the technology that carries Ethernet signals over existing electrical wiring. Netgear's new Powerline 200 AV and AV+ adaptors bring some new wrinkles to the category.

How many of the devices in your lounge room or family room are networked or at least network enabled? There's the Blu-ray player, the Xbox, the DVR or TiVo, perhaps an Apple TV or some other media player, and maybe even the TV itself. Taking the PS3 route saves one device compared with an Xbox and separate Blu-ray, but the principle is the same.

If it's impractical to install a wired network and you can't get the required bandwidth over Wi-Fi (streaming HD video may require more bandwidth than can be delivered to that particular spot in the house) one option is to use a pair of HomePlug AV powerline adaptors to bridge a localised Ethernet network for the 'entertainment zone' with the rest of your LAN.

When there's more than one Ethernet device to be connected, simply add an Ethernet switch between the devices and the HomePlug.

Netgear's new Powerline 200 AV and AV+ adaptors improve performance by up to 20% compared with previous products, company officials claimed.

The difference between the two models is that the AV+ incorporates a filtered pass-through socket, so it doesn't completely occupy the power point. Many other HomePlug devices lack this feature, and their dimensions often block the other half of a dual socket. Manufacturers generally discourage connecting HomePlug devices via extension leads or powerboards as they can reduce the throughput, sometimes very significantly.

Features common to both models include multicoloured LEDs to show network performance (making it easier to find the optimum power points), automatic power management, push-button secure setup, and QoS.

The Powerline 200 AV is said to be as little as half the size of competing products, keeping adjacent sockets clear. Available from mid-February, a pack of two adaptors will cost $A249. The availability and price of single units have yet to be announced.

Twin packs of the Powerline 200 AV+ will be available mid-March for $A299. Again, the price and availability of single units have not been announced yet.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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